The Illusion of Concentration: Are We Really Happy?

In previous articles, we have talked about the complexity of happiness due to the presence of two Jos who take into account different elements to assess the degree of happiness in our lives. To this must be added the frequent errors of thought present in the nature of our mind.

The amount of cognitive biases that humans commit in our daily life, it is very well known and developed by psychologists such as Dan Ariely and Daniel Kahneman due to the limitation of three of our cognitive processes: attention, perception and memory.

However, the bias that we humans have the most when it comes to thinking about our happiness is a cognitive error known as an illusion of concentration.

    What is the illusion of concentration?

    In his research on happiness, Kahneman adds this bias as a distorting element of our perception of reality, Which leads us to assess our level of satisfaction with life on the basis of the most accessible information of the present moment.

    It is a cognitive bias or an error in human thought which consists of the distortion of the importance that an aspect can have on our happiness right now we are thinking about it. In other words, it is the unfortunate fact that we cannot think of any circumstance that affects well-being without distorting its importance.

    The experience of the order of questions

    A well-known experience in which this bias shows through and the distortion of our elaborate judgments in the face of timely information is an experience in which students are asked to assess, in general, the well-being of their lives. They are then asked about all the dates they have had in the past month. The correlation between the score of these questions is negligible (0.012). Questions are answered independently.

    however, if we reverse his order and ask for dates first and then happiness the correlation increases to 0.66. One question influences the other. The order of the questions affected your answer. A cognitive distortion based on the shift in focus.

    Through this experience is reflected the influence of the approach illusion, which according to Kahneman can be described with the following sentence: “nothing in life is as important as we think when we think about it.”


      No matter how much we weigh, this thought mechanism influences all aspects of our lives, and it causes us to act in a way that maybe doesn’t come close to what makes us truly happy. That’s why many times we overestimate the importance of buying that car, joining the gym, starting this relationship, investing in a new business, adopting a dog. .. and how it will increase our level of well-being when, in fact, we may be victims of this cognitive bias.

      If we can draw anything clear from this discovery of our psyche, it is that nothing in life is as important as you think while you think about it. Human well-being always depends on the enthusiasm of your approach.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Kahneman, Daniel. Think fast, think slow. Barcelona: Debate, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-8483068618.

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